3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayBreakfast MondayBreakfast TuesdayBreakfast WednesdayBreakfast ThursdayBreakfast FridayBreakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Camellia Cafe

Abita Springs: 69455 LA 59. 985-809-6313. Map.
Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
With locations in St. Bernard, Slidell and Abita Springs, this small chain of neighborhood-style restaurants cooks a surprisingly wide menu of local specialties and seafood. The place goes from red beans and poor boys to steaks with complicated sauces. The imaginative interior design–created by local artist Luis Colmenares–are a surprise for the first-time diner. It’s almost too slick.

WHAT’S GOOD
The Camellia Cafe serves the same piece of the population that Copeland’s goes after, but does a better job of it by staying with the local trends in casual eating. It’s the sort of place here I’d suspect a lot of food came finished from the outside, but as far as I can tell they cook everything in house. The fish is fresh and the portions are sometimes outlandishly oversize. The menus vary a little from location to location.

BACKSTORY
The original Camellia Cafe opened in 2004 in Slidell, “The Camellia City.” (No connection with the Camellia Grill.) The owners previously (and still) operated a cafe in the Stennis Space Center’s visitor center. The Abita Springs branch came along in 2006, with another (originally called the Riverbend Bistro, but now bearing the same name as the others) opening in Arabi the same year..

DINING ROOM
Designer Luis Colmenares–whose other works include the Red Fish Grill and Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse–designed the restaurants. He and the owners gathered local artists to fill the walls, floors, and tabletops with interesting and unmistakably local visuals. The Abita Springs restaurant is the most colorful and comfortable, but all have a similar motif. Service was not especially well trained in the beginning, but in recent times the dining room is managed sharply.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Starters
Fried mozzarella cheese
Crispy fried crab fingers
»Seafood stuffed mushrooms
Stuffed artichoke
Southwestern egg rolls
Fried mushrooms
Pickin’ box (assortment of fried seafood)
Buffalo chicken wings
»Fried onion rings
Shrimp, corn, and crab bisque
»Oyster and artichoke soup
»Chicken and sausage gumbo
Seafood gumbo
Crawfish etouffee soup
French onion soup
Garden salad
Caesar salad
Spinach salad
Bistro chicken salad
Chef salad
Boiled shrimp salad
Shrimp remoulade
entrees
Monterey chicken (grilled, onions, peppers, mushrooms, pepper jack)
»Eggplant napoleon (layered fried eggplant , crabmeat stuffing, crawfish etouffee)
BBQ ribs
Chicken tenders
»Panneed veal cutlets
»Fresh fish of the day
»Red beans and rice
Spaghetti and meatballs
»Chicken or veal parmesan
Crabmeat au gratin
Seafood pasta
»Fried seafood platters (several versions)
Pork chop
New York strip
Hawaiian rib eye
»Filet bordelaise
Hamburger steak
Sides
Mashed potatoes
Cole slaw
Loaded baked potato
»Sweet potato fries
Shrimp and squash casserole
Steak fries
»Baked macaroni
Green beans
Dinner salad
Sandwiches
»Muffuletta
»Roast beef poor boy
Roast beef, ham, and swiss
Meatball and provolone
Meatball and ”red gravy”
Hot sausage
»Veal parmesan
»Fried catfish, shrimp, oyster or half and half
French fry and brown gravy
»Fried crab
Fried or grilled chicken club
Club sandwich
Chicken or caesar wrap
Chicken salad sandwich
Club wrap
Double decker BLT
Desserts
»Bread pudding with rum sauce
Creole cream cheese cheesecake
Kentucky derby pie
Loving spoonful of chocolate cake
Layered carrot cake

FOR BEST RESULTS
Every serving here, with the possible exception of the steaks, constitutes too much food. Take it very easy on ordering. That bread pudding? Enough for four.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The menu is loaded with lapses of taste, as the kitchen gives full license to its customers to put almost anything on top of anything else. Keep it simple. The very popular shrimp and squash casserole sounds much better than it is. They serve the cheesecake warm (not a good idea).

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+1
  • Value +2
  • Attitude +1
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness -1
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Good for business meetings
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open all afternoon
  • Unusually large servings
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

2 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Bernard on July 20, 2014

    As Walton and Johnson used to say, “It is a Bill Medi, Bob Ocre production. – MEDIOCRE” The food is pretty good if you have a long time to wait for it. I recently waited over an hour to get a plate of red beans and rice with sausage. Several people were complaining about their food and whining about the wait. Until I told them I was leaving and would pay them for the drink I had (which was never refilled), I never heard a thing about my food. Some raised voices were heard in the back and then my food was delivered promptly to my table. That was the 4th and final time for me there. Other times several from the staff were outside smoking and a receptacle for cigarette butts was overflowing on to the front porch. After a rain, it was especially nauseating. Vulgar conversations from the kitchen were overheard at my table on another night when I sat near where the staff entered and exited the dining area. It is close to being a decent place, but for the past two or three years, it can’t seem to get over the hump.

    • Tom Fitzmorris on July 21, 2014

      My luck was generally good at Camellia Cafe, and we went there often. But about six months ago nothing has been as good as it was–breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s as if there’s a new management team or something. The owners should take a look at what’s going on.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

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